Calif. inferno: gotta follow those regs

“The first helicopter pilot to see the patch of flames that would become the catastrophic Cedar Fire radioed for aerial water drops, but state firefighters rejected his request because it came minutes after such flights had been grounded for the night. Within hours, the flames cascaded out of control and killed 13 residents between the mountains east of San Diego and the city. It eventually became the largest wildfire in California history. …

“The problem was that under state safety guidelines, no flights can go up into waning daylight. On Saturday, the cutoff was 5:36 p.m., said California Department of Forestry Capt. Ron Serabia, who coordinates the 12 tankers and 10 helicopters now battling the 272,000-acre blaze. The sun set that day at 6:05 p.m.” (Justin Pritchard, “State firefighters rejected air drop request for Cedar Fire because of night regulations”, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 30). (Via Arthur Silber). More: Matt Welch at Reason “Hit and Run” (Oct. 31) has a roundup of other instances in which bad policy decisions may have worsened damage from the wildfires: “near the top of my list is the 1968 state law that specifically orders insurance companies to pool together and offer homeowner policies to people who live in high-risk brush fire zones, a non-market last resort enjoyed by 20,000 people, most of whom live in the foothills of Southern California.” Yet more: Gregg Easterbrook (Oct. 31) on forest management and wildlands.

Comments are closed.